DURHAM were made to work hard for their wickets against Nottinghamshire yesterday, and all-rounder Ben Stokes believes they can take heart from the way stuck to their task, writes Gary Foster.
The visitors were made to toil somewhat on the opening day of their County Championship clash at Trent Bridge, eventually bowling the hosts out for 320.
But Durham contributed to their own problems putting down no fewer than five chances – Stokes was the chief culprit failing to take four of those catches, Will Smith missed one.
It remains to be seen how costly those drops could prove in the grand scheme of things, but Ed Cowan (40) was put down on just four, Steven Mullaney (80) was missed on six, while Stuart Broad (46) was reprieved twice – escaping on one and seven.
Stokes, who did take a great catch to send Chris Read packing off the bowling of Mark Wood, admitted it was one of those days.
“I think there was four that I managed to drop, but it was just on of those days in the slips where the ball seems to come at you,” he said. “At least I managed to grab one of them, and it was a good one to get.
“Chris Read has scored some unbelievable runs for them over the years, so it was nice to see the back of him.
“I think I owe Graham Onions more than a pint or two, but he knows you don’t mean to drop them.”
Despite the missed chances, Stokes preferred to look to the positives of Durham’s bowling in difficult conditions.
He said: “It was tough. It was pretty much ideal batting conditions. Overall I think we are pretty pleased to restrict them to what they got.
“I think we created chances throughout the day, and as a bowling unit, we are pretty proud we got them out for that total on a flat wicket.”
Durham rang the changes for the clash at Trent Bridge, as expected young bowler Mark Wood, who took five wickets at the ground last season, was called up for the injured Scott Borthwick.
Wood was again in the wickets yesterday taking 2-58, Onions and Rushworth also took two wickets each, while Stokes was the pick of the away attack with 3-58.
There was also a shock inclusion of Gareth Breese, who for the past two seasons has been restricted to mainly one-day and T20 games.
Breese was in for young batsman Keaton Jennings, who has struggled for runs this term, but scored 48 in the second innings against Yorkshire in the previous game.
The West Indian did have an impact for Durham on the first day, claiming the scalp of the dangerous James Taylor, three runs short of his century.
The visitors had 10 overs to survive before the close of play last night, but were unable to do so. Mark Stoneman was out for 30 as they ended the day on 34-1.